Recession education: Tuition and enrollment up across state

It’s a bad time to be raising university administration costs. It’s a good time to be streamlining administration and expanding recruitment efforts and student-funding options.

On Friday, Colorado officials formally asked the federal government for $760 million in stimulus money to save education programs and jobs threatened by this year’s record budget shortfalls.

Despite the inflow of federal cash, university administrations will make cuts across departments and hike tuition significantly. In-state tuition will climb an estimated 9 percent at many four-year institutions in the state.

The Greeley Tribune reports, however, that applications to college are climbing and specifically to the state’s junior colleges.

Marsi Liddell, president of Aims Community College, said Aims has seen enrollment steadily increase since the economic downturn. Enrollment of full-time equivalent students is up 20 percent this summer and it climbed 12 percent in spring.

While Aims doesn’t ask students why they enroll, “I can tell you that in the last two semesters we’ve seen evidence of a perceptible increase in enrollment,” Liddell said. “I can only guess that that’s because of the cost of going away (to college), especially to a four-year institution, and also the need for people who have lost their jobs, or fear they will lose their jobs, to go back and get some retooling.”

The state community college system is seeing similar trends. Enrollment increased 10 percent in spring 2009 compared to a year ago and is up 25 percent this summer, said Rhonda Bentz, spokeswoman for the Colorado Community College System.

The Greeley Trib cites a poll conducted in April by CollegeInvest, a nonprofit that provides college savings plans. CollegeInvest polled 502 Colorado parents and reported on Colorado recession education:

• Two-thirds of parents with high school children expect to use student loans, up from 61 percent a year ago.

• 55 percent of parents said they plan to delay retirement to pay for college, compared to 45 percent last year.

• Three out of 10 parents said they are saving less for college than they were a year ago, with 91 percent blaming the economy.

• About a fifth of parents said their children will wait a year or more before continuing their education.

• A quarter of parents whose children will enter community colleges said that before the recession they were planning on four-year institutions.

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About the Author

John Tomasic

Writer, editor, teacher, web wrangler. He has worked for art, business, culture, politics publications, five universities and a UN war crimes commission. @johntomasic
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